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Illicit trade warnings over plain packs dismissed by antis as scare stories

| March 31, 2014

A tobacco control group has accused tobacco companies of having encouraged scare stories predicting that the introduction of standardized packaging for tobacco products would boost cigarette smuggling, according to a story by Jamie Doward for The Observer (U.K.).

A new study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, claims such arguments must be viewed skeptically.

“We found that from early 2008 until early 2011 there were absolutely no media stories citing industry data on illicit sales of tobacco, despite levels being far higher then than they are now,” said professor Anna Gilmore of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath. “Then suddenly, just after the possibility of plain packaging was announced, we saw an increase in such stories, which have continued since. This, and the fact that leaked documents show that illicit trade was to be one of the industry’s key arguments against plain packs, suggests this is a deliberate strategy.”

There was no attempt in the story to try to explain the seeming conflict between there having been “absolutely no media stories” and there having been an “increase in such stories,” and Gilmore went on to say that industry claims that the use of illicit cigarettes in the U.K. was sharply increasing were “wholly inconsistent” with historical trends and recent independent data.

The study apparently also states that there was growing evidence tobacco companies were still involved in the illicit trade. “There is evidence of significant overproduction of cigarettes in markets such as Ukraine and Belarus and we know these excess cigarettes end up in the illegal market,” the study said.

The full story is at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/30/tobacco-cigarette-smuggling-scare-plain-packs.

FDA urged to act on cigarette design

| March 31, 2014

Thirty-three public health and medical organizations are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make it a priority to regulate how cigarettes are manufactured and thereby stop tobacco industry practices that have made cigarettes even more deadly and addictive than they were 50 years ago, according to a Tobacco-Free Kids press note issued through PRNewswire-USNewswire.

In a letter sent this week to Mitchell Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, the health groups asked the FDA to take action in response to the new surgeon general’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress, released in January.

The letter is at www.tobaccofreekids.org/content/media_center/2014_03_28_Zeller.pdf.
“The new report found that, despite smoking fewer cigarettes, smokers today are at far greater risk of developing lung cancer than they were 50 years ago, when the first surgeon general’s report on smoking and health alerted the nation that smoking causes lung cancer,” the press note said.

“The new report also concluded that this outcome is the result of changes made during that time in the design and composition of U.S. cigarettes.”

The letter apparently said that no manufacturer of any other product would have been allowed to have made product changes that increased the risk of fatal disease to its users.

“It is imperative that [the] FDA respond to the surgeon general’s report by moving decisively to exercise its statutory authority to require cigarette manufacturers to make necessary life-saving changes in the design and composition of their products,” the letter said.

Wyoming: casually smuggling cigarettes

| March 31, 2014

For every 100 cigarettes smoked in Wyoming, an additional 24 cigarettes are smuggled out, according to a story by Laura Hancock for the Billings Gazette.

Most of the “smuggled” cigarettes are probably bought legally in Wyoming and then taken for personal use to neighboring states with higher cigarette taxes.

According to a recent report about cigarette smuggling, Wyoming’s rate of “outbound smuggling,” or cigarettes leaving the state, is the second highest in the country.

The report was released by the Tax Foundation, which believes tax policy should be simple, transparent, stable and low, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which describes itself as doing economic research that draws support from market-oriented libertarians, moderates and conservatives.

The Mackinac Center used a statistical model to compare legal, per capita sales of cigarettes with smoking rates for Wyoming tabulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center.

While cigarettes in some low-tax states end up on the streets of places such as New York City, where a pack costs upward of $14, Mackinac Center researchers believe the cigarettes leaving Wyoming aren’t controlled by organized criminal rings.

The researchers used a statistical tool to tease out casual versus commercial smuggling.

And since Wyoming isn’t close to the population centers where cigarettes are the most expensive, the researchers concluded that cigarettes were likely being taken to neighboring states by individual smokers.

Coresta building the future in Canada

| March 31, 2014

The 2014 Coresta Congress is due to be held in Canada, in what the organizing committee describes as “the beautiful Old Québec City.”

It will be held at the Château Frontenac on Oct. 12–16.

The theme of the congress is “Building on experience to shape the future.”

More details are at www.coresta2014.org.

Swedish Match announces AGM date

| March 31, 2014

Swedish Match is due to hold its annual general meeting at Stockholm on May 7.

The board of directors has proposed a dividend of SEK7.30 per share and May 12 as the day of record for the right to receive a cash dividend.

The company published its annual report on March 25 and its annual results to the end of December on Feb. 19.

Belgium: could do better on smoking

| March 28, 2014

The Association of European Cancer Leagues has given Belgium a poor score for its anti-smoking policies, according to an Expatica.com story.

In fact, Belgium scored 47 percent, which put it in 13th place on a list of what was said to be “some 30 European countries”; so it was in the top half, but only just.

Luk Joossens, of the Belgian Association for the Battle Against Cancer, said that prices for tobacco products in Belgium were too low to serve as a deterrent.

“Prices are lower than in neighbouring countries,” he said. “This is especially the case for rolling tobacco, where price levels here are much below those applied in France.”

“In the past five years, no new initiatives were launched to stop people from smoking. I am thinking about publicity in places where tobacco is being sold. In many European countries, this is against the law, but not in Belgium.”

The swots of the European class were said to be Ireland and the U.K., though it wasn’t mentioned how highly they scored.

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